4-star Mattes blown away by USC visit

The Gamecocks played host to one of the Tar Heel State's best on Saturday afternoon, as Jay M. Robinson (Concord, NC) 4-star offensive lineman R.J. Mattes made a surprise visit to USC to take in his first South Carolina football game of the recruiting process. Did the Gamecocks make a move for the big man's services while he was on campus? Read inside for all the details.

The 6'6", 260 pound Mattes, who is rated by Scout.com as the #25 offensive tackle prospect in America this recruiting year, had a great time in Columbia, and he said the Gamecocks made quite an impression on him during his visit.

"I went down to South Carolina's game yesterday," said Mattes. "It was a great game and a great atmosphere in the SEC. Coach (John) Hunt gave me a tour of the locker room in the middle of all the players, and he really impressed me a lot. I got to sit down and listen to Spurrier talk. I got to go to pre-game and met all the players from North Carolina. I met up with Freddie Brown, who is a former Jay M. Robinson High School player like me. I talked with him a little bit. South Carolina definitely went up on my list after that visit."

Mattes has attended numerous ACC games in recent years, but Saturday was his first experience at an SEC venue during the recruiting process, and he said the difference in atmosphere and fan support was noticeable.

"The atmosphere of the crowd and the tailgating really stood out, but the thing that actually stood out the most to me was that people actually knew who I was. Just being a recruit coming in there, people were talking to me. I didn't have a name tag on or anything, and they were saying, 'Come on R.J., come to South Carolina.' I was really surprised, because I didn't think anybody knew me. That really surprised me."

According to Mattes, he is building a strong bond with and is very comfortable with Coach Fred Chatham, his USC recruiter.

"Coach Chatham is recruiting me. He came up to my game on Friday, and he was the one I first told I was going to come down. I talked with him before the game (on Saturday), and he let me know how much they want me. I really like Coach Chatham. He's a good recruiter, and me and him are starting to become good friends."

While in Columbia, Mattes also got the opportunity to interact with one of USC's current commitments, who he got to know well on the camp circuit earlier this year.

"I talked with T.J. (Johnson), one of their commitments. Me and T.J. are cool. We go back. We went to basically every camp and combine together, and me and him are going to try and schedule an official visit to South Carolina the same weekend, because we're real cool with each other."

The way the Gamecocks utilized their offensive line during the game caught Mattes' attention as well.

"Coach Hunt told me how they had to start a few new players, and what stood out the most was how they pulled their linemen. At the end, they established the run, and they just started running it down their throat. That impressed me, because it was just power football."

Although he is admittedly undersized for a lineman coming out of high school, Mattes was excited about where the USC coaches said he could fit into the Gamecocks' long term plans on the offensive line.

"Anywhere I go, I'm probably going to end up redshirting because I need to put on mass and get the football knowledge, but Coach Hunt showed me where I'd be on the depth chart. They're recruiting me as a left tackle. He told me if I worked hard and did good, then I could probably play either my sophomore or junior year, and that'd be great."

While Mattes acknowledged that the Gamecocks moved up his list following his trip to Columbia, he is not ready to name any frontrunners among his top five.

"North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson, N.C. State and UVA are still my top five. I'm not going to judge anyone until I take all of my official visits. They're basically all even right now. I can't wait to take all my official visits so I can see everything around - every campus and just meet everybody. That's when I'm really going to start judging them."

When asked if he has scheduled any official visits yet, Mattes said that he has two trips scheduled for early December, and he plans to set up three more with the remainder of his top five.

"The first week of December I'm going to North Carolina, the second week is South Carolina, and Virginia was supposed to be last weekend, but I'm rescheduling that one. I'm not sure when that one's going to be. I've still got to schedule the other schools in my top five too."

In the more immediate future, the Gamecocks will have another opportunity to impress Mattes, as he will be in attendance in Chapel Hill when South Carolina travels to play UNC.

"I think definitely the North Carolina-South Carolina game (on October 13th) would be a good one to go to. Both teams are in my top five. That's probably the only visit I have planned for the near future."

According to Mattes, he plans to have a decision made in early January, and he knows what factors he will be looking for when deciding on his college choice.

"I was looking to make an early decision, but because I'm scheduling my officials after the season, it's probably going to be early January before I make a commitment. I'm definitely going to look for the school where I fit in the most with the players and with the coaches, and the school that can provide me with the best academics for my field. I'm looking to major in business."

The standout lineman closed by discussing how his senior season has started off so far this fall.

"We're 3-3 right now. It's been a roller coaster year. It's been good sometimes and then the next game we play pretty crappy, but overall we're a decent team. Hopefully we can get a win under our belt this week. Personally, I think I've been doing a lot better. Having the confidence this year with getting recruited and all, I've been playing a lot better at left tackle. I'm also playing on the d-line, and I think I've got 5 sacks this year."

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